Anyone who has tackled Latin, even if only for a semester, knows that Gaul was divided into three parts–even if they’re still not sure why.
Latin students know this because for decades they’ve been nurtured on the prose of Julius Caesar, as set down in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars. For this reason they’ve learned to translate sentences like “the dead horse lay in the road”, or master some of the terminology of Roman bridge building and military rituals. All of this because Caesar wrote in a very clear and direct prose, making him (as Latin teachers have believed) a model for students.
But was Caesar a historian? Were the commentaries a kind of “current history”? Of what use are they to ancient historians? And how might we test their reliability, or Caesar’s veracity?
Our guest today on Historically Thinking is Adrian Goldsworthy, who is uniquely able to answer these questions and more. A native of South Wales, Dr. Goldsworthy’s doctoral thesis was on the Roman Army as “a fighting force”. Since then he has written numerous histories of the ancient world, as well as biographies that include Caesar: Life of a Colossus and most recently Augustus: First Emperor of Rome. He is also the author of six novels set in the British Army during the Peninsular Campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars, and has just completed his first novel set in the ancient world.
For Further Investigation
True Soldier Gentleman (the first of his Napoleonic novels)